By Jared Bray, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
May 8, 2014
MIDVALE, Utah – The Filipino Catholic tradition known as Santacruzan came to life in Midvale on May 4, bringing together kababayans from various religions.
In addition to members of Misang Bayan, the Catholic congregation who organized the event, Pinoys from other churches also participated, including Mormons, Protestants and Evangelicals.
“As they say, ‘The more the merrier,’” said Father Joey Frez, the pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish.
“We come together regardless of our faiths, and we show our unity and solidarity. It shows that even though we belong to different faiths, we can still come together as a community.”
The Santacruzan was the third to be held in Utah, and thanks to the mix of Christians who attended, it was also the largest, as a lengthy parade of elaborate gowns and barong tagalogs marched through city streets. The procession commemorated St. Helen and her search for the cross of Jesus.
“My family and everyone that supported me through this made my arch crazy big, and I was very excited for it, and, honestly, it’s an honor to be a part of it,” Filipino Catholic Love Sanchez said.
Many of the participants are former Catholics who grew up with the longtime tradition. Now, as members of new faiths, they’ve returned to reconnect with the past and teach their children about their Pinoy heritage.
“I want my kids to get involved with our old traditions because I think it’s important for them to know where I came from,” Filipino Mormon Gueen Frenzel said.
For some, especially the youth who’ve grown up in the States, the celebration was a first-time experience and an opportunity to learn about Philippine culture.
“They needed volunteers for the Santacruzan, and so I said, ‘OK, let’s do it,’” Filipino Mormon Jessa Taminez said. “I want to help out. Anything that has to do with Filipino tradition.”
At the end of the procession, the group held a Flores de Mayo Mass, where flowers were offered to Virgin Mary, and then ended the event with a Filipino feast.
Those who organized the Santacruzan believe the celebration will grow in future years as kababayans from diverse religions continue to participate.